The redevelopment of the former Jericho Health Centre site at the top of Cranham Street is still on track, said Richard Dick, Chair and CEO of Lucy Group which owns the site. Mr Dick was speaking at one of the Coffee and Conversation sessions at the Jericho Community Centre on September 12. Lucy’s have been going through pre-planning with the City, but the process is slow because of the complexities of the site. There is a right of way through it, and while some flats in St Pauls’ House are council-owned others are privately owned on long leases—an outcome of the right to buy scheme.
Richard is the third generation of the Dick family to manage what is still a privately owned business. He explained how Lucy’s had grown from a small iron foundry started 200 years ago to group of four companies that now employs more than 1,400 people around the world. Lucy’s most visible presence in Oxford is its property company, but this forms only a very small proportion of its operations – employing around 30 people. Like some other aspects of the business the property activity started by accident. Residents in Juxon Street were complaining about the noise and fumes from the foundry. Lucy’s responded by buying up the properties from St Johns and still owns many houses in Juxon Street – which accounts for the elegant iron railings and the colour schemes.
Other houses in Jericho also had iron railings but many of these were melted down for scrap during World War II when Lucy’s was manufacturing munitions.
Lucy’ iron works finally ceased operations in Jericho in 2005. With the high volume of business and the steady stream of trucks in and out of the site, the location became increasingly unsuitable. Lucy’s redeveloped the site as flats and houses – including Foundry House and Furness House. Today, only the property business is located in Oxford. Lucy Electric is in Thame and makes electrical switching equipment. Lucy Zodion is in Sowerby Bridge in West Yorkshire making street lighting equipment. Lucy Castings in Witney is a specialist manufacturer of iron and aluminium casting. There are also operations in Saudi Arabia, UAE, South Africa, China, Thailand, Malaysia and India.
The company name derives from William Lucy one of the early managers of the business in the 1860s. Customers in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere are often puzzled why the company seems to have a woman’s name. But the name is helpfully distinctive. William Lucy is buried in St Sepulchre’s where the company has recently restored his grave.
Mr Dick’s interesting presentation was part of the new season of ‘Coffee and Conversation’. For the list of forthcoming meetings, please click HERE,
Former MD of Radio 4, Master of St Peters College